The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

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Streaming content

What is streaming?

Live streaming is a way in which you can deliver real time online content and engage directly with viewers. Live streams normally have a personal feel, with the viewers able to shape the content being delivered. A recording of the live stream is often uploaded so that viewers can watch back at a later date.

Live streaming is currently seeing a huge boom in popularity (what else are you going to do when stuck in the house 24/7?!) with the likes of Joe Wicks’ daily PE classes; live nature channels and gamers streaming Fortnite.

If you’ve ever watched a live sports match or event, this is similar to you live streaming to Facebook or another website.

It’s now easier than ever to live stream, so why not give it a try!

Why go live?

Streaming offers the opportunity to connect with your members and engage directly with them in real-time. Putting on events allows your community to come together, it helps reduce isolation and is a really great way to ensure your group stays active and relevant whilst in lockdown.

People like watching streams because it feels like hanging out with your friends, rather than watching a pre-recorded video of your friend talking. It’s a dynamic experience where anything can happen and the streamer can react to them personally and engage with them in (pretty much) real time. You share inside jokes and build memories together.

What can I stream?

You really are only limited by your imagination on this one! Anything you think your members would find interesting and engaging is worth giving a shot. You might try streaming:

  • Game content
  • A Pub Quiz
  • Committee Q&A
  • Skills sessions
  • Tutorials / Classes
  • Fitness Programmes
  • Dance Lessons

Tips for a great Stream

  • Try out streaming to yourself or a small group of people first before broadcasting to everyone.
  • Most platforms have the option for you to change who your stream is published to or even allow you have test broadcasts. Ensure you are comfortable with how to stream and how to use the software/website before going live to your audience.
  • Remember, as with anything on the internet, anything you say or do could be recorded and seen by many more people than you originally intended.
  • Always ensure you’re being respectful and mindful of others. The Bristol SU Code of Conduct lays out expected behaviours that should be taken into account when publishing anything online.
  • Make sure you make people aware of when you’re streaming in advance - put it as an event on Facebook so people can be notified when it’s coming up or make a post on a story or your page. You can also schedule your stream on your Facebook page which can notify your followers.
  • Ensure your stream has an interesting title, this will make people want to watch it.
  • Ask people to engage by commenting or using emojis. Each interaction like this boosts how far the website shares your stream across users. Examples of questions can be asking people where they’re watching from.
  • Put your phone on Do not Disturb and make sure you’re in a quiet room! A quiet room might not be possible for everyone, but try and let people in your house know in advance what you’re doing and when so they know to be quiet. Background noises might make it hard for your viewers to hear you, so try to reduce this as much as possible.

Technical Information

Basic requirements

You’ll need a device to view or host a stream. Either a tablet, phone or laptop/desktop will do! Using a phone or tablet to host a stream has different features than when using a laptop or desktop. Your laptop or desktop will need to have a webcam. If you don’t have a webcam, or yours isn’t good, you might want to buy a USB webcam which you can plug in to use.

You need to have a reliable internet source, if you can watch video with ease and have video calls with others then you should be able to stream. Internet connections aren’t always reliable, so have someone else in the comments who’s part of your group/a friend who you can call if your internet goes out who can update viewers.

Streaming Sites: Mobile and Tablet Options

Mobile and Tablet options are the easiest setups to use and are the most natural as well. There are quite a few platforms out there but for your engagement we recommend using either Facebook Live or Instagram Live.

Facebook Live

  • Can use many features as you would on Facebook Video Chat! With those options being able to start and stop while on stream, such as flipping front and back cameras and fun effects.
  • Users can interact with your livestream via comments, which will appear on your screen.
  • As shown, you can also do options such as Lip Sync Live which is an inbuilt Facebook feature.
  • You can rotate your phone to landscape so you stream widescreen, this will make the content more favourable to those on desktop while still giving the same experience to those on mobile.

Instagram Live

  • Add a guest
  • Instagram’s live feature is very similar to Facebook’s Mobile Live’s but you can add remote guests directly into your stream, taking the burden off one person to deliver a stream by themselves.
  • Comments are similar to Facebook Live, but you can turn comments on and off.
  • One feature which works well is when you go live a notification is blasted to all your followers. Facebook does something similar but it doesn’t seem to go to all followers.

Other Options

There are some mobile livestreaming apps which allow a more professional setup; however, these often charge a fee.

Sreaming Sites: Laptop and Desktop Options

Ready to go setups

A stream doesn’t have to be professional. You can just stream to a site without having any software pre-installed. Using a laptop/desktop over a mobile or tablet gives you more flexibility in some circumstances but is more formal.

Facebook Live

Can stream your webcam, entire screen, application window or individual tabs. These can all be done while also using a microphone to speak. However, you can’t change the setup during the stream, so you can’t switch to your webcam halfway through or switch from an application window if you’ve locked that on from the start.

If these out of the box options don’t give you enough flexibility, you might want to use available software to enhance your steam.

Youtube Live

You might need to be verified by Youtube before you can stream, so make sure you try to go live 24 hours before you intend to! Youtube has two options, ‘stream’ or ‘webcam’. Webcam is out of the box and allows you to just stream the video being capture by, you guessed it, your webcam. This very easy to setup, slightly less functionally than Facebook Live’s.

‘Stream’ involves using one of below streaming software in order to stream content, this has increased benefits but has more of a learning curve.

Software to Enhance your Stream

You might want to have more than one thing on your screen at once, for example you might want to have your camera showing your face, a comment thread and your browser/powerpoint presentation or game all on the screen streaming to your viewers. This can be seen in the image below.

You can also use the software to have different screens throughout your stream. Such as the below screen capture. Other options could include having an ‘I’ll be just back screen’ so new viewers know that you’re just taking a quick break.

Using this type of software to create and deliver these streams does require more preparation and knowhow to get this running than just using streaming directly on Facebook Live or Twitch.

Types of Software

LightStream is a partly-free in-browser stream software which you can use to add more flexibility into your stream. Using multiple sources etc. This is great if you want to quickly stream with a few more options. Lightstream does have a limit on the length of time free users can use the software.

You can also add up to three guests to join your stream using the free version. There are online guides to help with setup and how to use the software.

StreamLabs is a free (with in app purchases) streaming software which is similar to LightStream but needs to be downloaded to use. You can pay for overlays and graphics to use on your stream but they aren’t needed to stream. There is a small learning curve to use this fully but there any many guides online to help with this.

OBS is a free open sourced and fully customisable streaming software. However, there is a steep learning curve and might not be appropriate for all users. As with the other software there are online guides to help.